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Loren Glass, ed. After the Program Era: The Past, Present, and Future of Creative Writing in the University

Loren Glass, ed. After the Program Era: The Past, Present, and Future of Creative Writing in the University. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2016. vii, 277p. ISBN 9781609384395. US$ 35.00 (paperback).

I remember being riveted by Mark McGurl’s The Program Era: Post-War Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing (Harvard UP, 2009). It offered a grand unified field theory of post-1945 American fiction – a sophisticated, materialist account of how the conditions of literary production shaped American prose. McGurl argued that “the rise of the creative writing program stands as the most important event in postwar American literary history” (ix), making us rethink the relationship between higher education and the literary marketplace.

After the Program Era, as Glass describes it in the introduction, “explores the consequences and implications, as well as the lacunae and liabilities, of McGurl’s foundational intervention” (1).

Lori Merish. Archives of Labor: Working-Class Women and Literary Culture in the Antebellum United States

Lori Merish. Archives of Labor: Working-Class Women and Literary Culture in the Antebellum United States. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. 328p. ISBN 9780822363224. US$ 26.95.

Lori Merish’s Archives of Labor: Working Class Women and Literary Culture in the Antebellum United States is an ambitious work that recovers texts by and about women, labor, and working-class experience. Merish examines texts that consider a diversity of women, including “Lowell mill women, African American ‘free laborers,’ Mexicana mission workers, urban seamstresses, and prostitutes” (10). This book both performs the work of recovering texts left out of literary history and analyzing the subject positions of the diverse women represented in them.

Megan J. Elias. Food on the Page: Cookbooks and American Culture. Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald. United Tastes: The Making of the First American Cookbook.

 

Megan J. Elias. Food on the Page: Cookbooks and American Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017. 296p. ISBN 9780812249170. US$ 34.95.

Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald. United Tastes: The Making of the First American Cookbook. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2017. 351p., ill. ISBN 9781625343222. US$ 32.95.

Cookbooks have always been vital sources for food studies scholars, because they presumably document what foods people have eaten and how they have prepared them. In these two engrossing studies, researchers move beyond recipes to investigate how cookbooks function as crucial national texts in the United States and as fruitful topics of print culture research.